Donald Trump Is Not “Pro-Life!” 

In case you’re thinking about voting for trump because he’s pro-life,  think again. Despite his 11th hour “conversion” to pro-life talking points,  he is certainly the most pro-death candidate in the race.

I’m not the first to make this point. Matthew Lee Anderson at Mere Orthodoxy makes this point very well from a consevative perspective, Rachel Held Evans makes it from a progressive perspective, and Shannon Dingle has made it well from a largely non political perspective. 

Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson all oppose increasing restrictions on abortion. They’re “Pro-Choice” as the terms go.

Clinton has repeatedly said that while she does not want to ban abortions, she wants to make them rare, largely through education and contraceptive access that will prevent unwanted pregnancies, and also through an increased social safety net.

Donald Trump has shared the same pro-choice opinion for his entire career, until he realized he needed evangelical votes to win. Since then he’s “seen the light” and worked in some anti-abortion talking points. Few people believe he’s actually going to follow through on any of it.

The American Solidarity Party is strongly pro-life, but they aren’t on many states’ ballots.

The Lancet and the Guttmacher Institute have both found that, worldwide, abortion rates don’t go down when the penalties for abortion go up. 

Instead, the lowest abortion rates are present when a greater social safety net takes away the “desperation abortion,” and where contraception and education about contraception is freely and easily available.

Think about it:  prohibition didn’t work on alcohol in the 1920’s. The drug war hasn’t settled people from doing drugs,  and gun bans don’t stop criminals from getting weapons,  even when the whole country bans them (Mexico, for example). 

Back alley abortions are extremely easy to do, much easier than constructing or smuggling an illegal gun, or even making meth.

A lot of people present the typical abortion as involving some self-involved, cosmopolitan, well-off woman who just can’t be bothered to fit a baby into her busy social schedule, or who doesn’t want to lose her tight abs and gain post-pregnancy stretch marks.

That’s a great talking point for the Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akins of the world, but that’s really all it is. Abortions mostly happen because women are struggling just to survive (and take care of any kids they already have), and don’t think they can take care of another child. In fact, according to The Lancet, married women are the most likely to get an abortion.

Increasing the social safety net takes away that fear factor, and abortion rates adjust downward, naturally. Providing easier access to contraception also reduces abortion, so the Hobby Lobby’s of the world’s can’t really call themselves pro life in any meaningful way. 

During Reagan and Bush 1’s Presidencies, abortion rates began to fall. During Clinton’s presidency, they fell rapidly. During Bush 2’s Presidency, the abortion rate fell, but more slowly. During the Obama Presidency, the abortion rate fell 13%, a faster fall than under any of the Republican Presidents.

So while the abortion rates have been falling overall, there’s no reason to believe they’d fall faster under Trump than under Clinton, and some small evidence to believe the reverse might be true.

So that leads us to other aspects of being “pro-life.”

I mean, if you only care about abortion rates, you’re not really pro-life, just anti-abortion. And what good is that, really?

  • Clinton is certainly less likely to get us into another ground war. To be sure, she’ll use air power liberally (no pun intended), and kill far more people than I’d find acceptable, but Trump will almost certainly do much, much worse things.
  • A former CIA diector has labeled Trump a threat to national security
  • Clinton is less likely to tear families apart through bigoted and impractical mass deportation scenarios (Muslims, Mexicans, or whoever Trump names off next).
  • Oh, and speaking of worse things: Clinton is against torture, while Trump has advocated torturing and killing the families of suspected terrorists. This is unspeakably evil, a literal crime against humanity.
  • Clinton is far more likely to reform our justice system, bringing some reduction in the number of people killed by police and the outrageous percentage of our population that we keep incarcerated (more than any other sizable country, by a huge margin).
  • Clinton is more likely to support policies that will support families and mothers, like paid maternal leave, widespread health insurance, and social safety nets for economically disadvantaged mothers-to-be.
  • Clinton pushed for CHIP, a program that has provided medical care for huge numbers of otherwise uninsured children over the last 19 years.
  • Trump has been accused of sexual assault by several women, and his hateful misogyny is clear. I don’t know if this matters to the pro-life crusaders,  but it matters to me. 

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that some of the third party candidates might be just as pro-life or more so. Stein and Johnson are much more dovish than Clinton. The American Solidarity Party is dovish, pro-safety net,  and anti-abortion in every way. They are also anti-LGBT+ rights and borderline theocratic, so your mileage may vary.

    At any rate, none of them have a viable chance in November.  They didn’t even meet the threshold to be included in the debates. 

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote third-party. Just be realistic about the outcome. 

    Trump or Clinton will be our next President. 

    As far as lives lost and destroyed go, I think there’s really no question. Fewer people – born and unborn alike – will be killed, maimed, and tortured under a Clinton Presidency than under a Trump Presidency. Bottom line.

    And that means Hillary Clinton is as close to pro-life as we’re gonna get this year. 

    Theory Thursday: Creeds and Beliefs

     https://youtu.be/H-61MaWETiU

     I’m talking about my beliefs, my creed, so to speak. In the “re-boot” post, I talked about how my theological beliefs had settled down a bit since the last period of blog activity (2012-2013), but I didn’t go into much detail, and may have been a bit a bit vague or confusing.

    First, let me get the question of orthodoxy out of the way. I affirm the Apostle’s Creed every Sunday in church, and I mean every word.

    I believe that Jesus was so much more than just an example for us … but that we cannot ignore his example. And in many ways, I spent most of my life ignoring his example.

    Jesus taught peace, yet I found a way to justify every single war the U.S. had ever gotten into. 

    Jesus crossed social boundaries and embraced the poor, the outcasts of society, and those believed to be sinners, yet I found a way to stay safe in my own middle-class moral superiority. I let myself believe that we’d somehow all started from the same place.

    Jesus always spoke up to the powerful for the sake of those who were weaker, poorer, considered sinners, or socially ‘underneath.’

    Yet time and again, I’d side with the powerful, the privileged,  because I’m one of them … white,  male,  heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied Christian.

    America wss quite literally made for my kind. 

    And I know I won’t ever understand how it is to be black or gay or trans or  female … But at least I can be aware of that. At least I can listen. 

    At least I can try to follow the Jesus of the Gospels.

    The Good Samaritan and GSM (LGBT+)

    Let me state by saying that I do not believe that we can truly love somebody while considering that person to be fundamentally broken, flawed, bent, abominable, while comparing that person’s very existence to something like adultery or demanding that the person be celibate because of their very nature.

    In short, you cannot love somebody while declaring their nature to be evil and classifying any love or intimacy they may feel as an evil on the level of infidelity or thievery or perversion.

    In short, you cannot love someone who is a gender or sexual minority in the way that Jesus calls his people to love unless you accept that person as they are, and accept that person’s love and relationships.

    I have seen the damage that this approach has gone, especially to people who were raised in the church. The damage that is done to a child by being told again and again that they are fundamentally broken, that any romantic relationship that they may have feel is a simple abomination – that the image is incalculable, and can and does lead to suicide again and again.

    Time and again, Jesus said that we must judge a tree by its fruit. Suicide, pain, alienation, and depression are not good fruit. They are a bitter, bloody harvest that we bear responsibility for.

    Any doctrine that leads to death of children and teens cannot be of God.

    I don’t want to sound as if I’m condemning Christians who try to love people while maintaining their sincerely held moral objections, because that is often a step on the path. I know I had to get there before I could get here. But I don’t want to give the impression that I think that this is anywhere to end up. This is a baby step. This is milk, and we Christians are called upon to grow up, eat adult food, and put aside childish things.

    Rachel Held Evans gave a good illustration of this by pointing out that in Jesus’s parable of the good Samaritan, it was not the Samaritan who needed help, who needed somebody to be God’s hands to him. Instead, the Samaritan, who was a member of a group that good observing Jews of the time would consider heretical and immoral, this Samaritan was the one who acted as a good neighbor to the injured man, who was in this context Jewish. It was the outsider, the one who was looked down upon, who was the hands of God to the man after the priest and the Levites passed by and did nothing.

    This is a revolutionary concept, but I wanted to publicly put my name on this belief because I don’t want there to be any confusion among anyone who may have read anything else I’ve written as to where I stand. As believers, we don’t need to welcome anyone in just so we can change them. We don’t even need to welcome them just so that we can love them and be Jesus to them. We need to recognize that they may be the hands of God to us, that we may learn from them, grow because of them, or be rescued through them.

     

    Deserve Part Three: A Warning Against Premature Worthiness

    ​In my last post, I talked about how I never stepped up and earned any writing skill and success,  never really took chances or dedicated myself back when I was younger and it was easier. 

    Ironically, this may be for the best, because everything I wrote before about 2012 I find embarrassing, even negative. And I don’t mean in the open “oh well, I wasn’t writing very good prose back then was I?” way. I mean in the “wow, I’m I’m a different person and I disagree with most of the presuppositions and general underlying themes of those pieces of writing” way.

    I was still caught up in the myth of redemptive violence, like most Americans. I operated under assumptions that seem harmful and unChristlike to me now. 

    I still wrote without any real diversity of casts,  and worse, without any real understanding. 

    So, I’m rather glad  in a twisted way that I never really pulled the trigger before, because my past works (especially if they were successful) would feel like enemies to me. 

    Now since they just live on the corners of my hard drive, they’re little more than remembrances of where I was. But if they were out there on Amazon and in bookstores, I would be at war written the works of my own hands.

    So that’s where I stand and it’s not so bad as I thought. But it’s not a good place to end up. I have to write more and I have to write more things that I’m proud of and that I think are good – not just “well done” but good in the greater sense.

    “Deserve” Has Everything to Do With It

    A while back I talked about how “deserve has nothing to do with it.” Now I want to talk about the opposite. Sometimes, deserve has everything to do with it.

    For those of us who were born in relative privilege, we have to deserve the things that we get and that we go for.

    We may be handed a lot, being born in a country that’s not war-torn, that has clean water, that has vaccinations. But there are things we have to earn.

    I was reading an Onion article called, “find the thing you love most, and do it on nights and weekends for the rest of your life.” I have to admit I found it pretty depressing. 

    But when I look back at when I was younger and had more time and opportunity, I see that I never really took advantage of it.

    I never really pursued being a writer when I was young and had the relative freedom to do that. I certainly never pushed myself, writing hard and really studying to improve my skills, when I was young and had so much more time than I do now.

    In short, I didn’t deserve to succeed. I didn’t deserve to be a writer.

    What that means now is that if I ever want to have even some sideline success with this, is that now I’m going to have to earn it when it’s harder.

    I wasted my playthrough on the “easy setting” and now I’m going to slightly harder setting … still not anywhere near the hardest setting … but slightly harder than before. 

    And so now I’m going to have to prove that I want this more and then I’m willing to be more disciplined than I was as a young man, and do this while still keeping up my work and family responsibilities, even though it’s harder now than it was before.

    And I have to be more disciplined and more dedicated than I’ve ever been before. Which is a pretty low bar to leap.

    “Deserve” Has Nothing to Do with It

    ​https://youtu.be/dpDkYZWeeVg

    It’s easy to talk about our accomplishments

    It’s easy to talk about what we’ve done

    What we’ve built

    And look down from our safe, high places

    And say to those below, 

    “If I did it,  you can do it!  

    Don’t be so lazy!  

    Pull yourselves up! 

    Don’t ask for a handout!  

    Nobody helped me up! ”

    When we know that last one is manifestly untrue. 

    Did I build the roads that carried my mother to the hospital where I wss born? 

    Did I build the hospital?

    Did I make the water clean, the mosquitos relatively disease free, the food plentiful and the land peaceful? 

    Did even my parents build all that? 

    Did I chose my nation,  my parents wisely, as I was waiting to be born? 

    No. I did not. And neither did you.

    Ripples (Words and Actions Have Consequences)

    ​https://youtu.be/1VR3Av9qfZc

    Sometimes we aim to misbehave

    Most often, we don’t aim at all

    In an intricately interconnected world

    Our actions and inactions have meaning

    Beyond our circle of friends
    Beyond our monkeysphere 

    Beyond our field of vision

    We dance on spider’s silk

    Intricately interwoven

    Each step sets the strings vibrating

    For good or for ill

    For ourselves and for those a world away

    Myths of violence prime our minds for war

    Spinning up from children’s cartoons

    To novels and political speeches

    Desensitizing, Dehumanizing

    One American life is worth

    How many Pakistanis? 
    How many Afghans?

    How many?

    Chocolate grown by slaves tastes sweet,  but not to them 

    Clothes, Coffee, Rice, Diamonds, Gold

    Products of foced labor, by children

    So many things it’s hard to know where to start

    None of us is pure.

    I doubt we can be in a world like this.

    Where powerful interests throw their rocks and hide their hands 

    What can we do?

    I’m no expert, but I have a few ideas.

    Ironically, the first comes from Ayn Rand: Call evil “evil.”

    Don’t give your silent sanction to things you oppose

    Don’t give unspoken approval to things that appall you.

    The second is simpler, but requires some self discipline

    Pick a few things that are products of slavery,

    And stop buying them.

    Buy more clothes second-hand, if you can.

    If you’re 6’7″ like me, that may not be possible.

    Find something you can do, even if it’s small.

    Only buy chocolate that’s ethically sourced.

    Change where your money goes.

    The third is simpler yet: spread the word

    Sign petitions. Write your congress people

    Post to social media. 

    Get the word out, to people who matter.

    Praise President Obama and the responsible legislators of both parties for tightening restrictions

    For keeping dozens of slavery products out of the US  

    Even if you don’t like their other policies

    Fourth, if you are a writer or content creator

    Be sure that what you create reflects your heart

    Every work has a message

    Every work shows and tells how it’s world works, 

    How things get better or worse, 

    What brings happiness and justice

    Money? “Winning” the sexy love interest?  

    Outwitting a nagging wife? 

    Killing or beating up the right bad guys? 

    Every story tells a story… or it wouldn’t be a story. 

    Pure entertainment doesn’t exist